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Ducking the Debate? Bentley, Griffith Meet at Candidate Forum (FULL VIDEO)

Lee Hedgepeth

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By Lee Hedgepeth
Alabama Political Reporter

ORANGE BEACH – Candidates for Alabama’s highest elected offices met yesterday at Perdido Beach Resort for the first, and so far, only candidate forum this election cycle. The event was held at the annual convention of the Association of County Commissioners of Alabama on Thursday in Orange Beach.

Speaking for twenty minutes each with no interaction or debate, candidates from both parties for Alabama Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General took the stage in turn, beginning with the gubernatorial candidates.

Parker Griffith (D)

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Speaking first, Dr. Parker Griffith, the Democratic nominee for Governor, delivered an articulate and impassioned – but apathetically received – indictment of Alabama’s incumbent Governor Robert Bentley. Griffith labeled Bentley’s administration “aimless,” going as far as to say that if Alabama were an African country, many would be tempted to call it a “failed state.”

Dr. Griffith voiced his support for medicaid expansion, calling it a “no brainer,” criticizing Bentley for not expanding the program. Griffith did point out that he voted against Obamacare in Congress, however, saying that despite that, some provisions of the law have helped Alabamians.

The Democrat also criticized the Governor for his silence on the Lee County Grand Jury investigation surrounding Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, a theme that reemerged with comments by Joe Hubbard later in the day.

At one point, Griffith implied that the Bentley campaign had “changed its mind” about the format for the Orange Beach forum, opting out of a debate at the last minute. The President of the ACCA, however, said the forum format has always been the same, allowing no debate and only twenty minutes per candidate.

Griffith has challenged Bentley to a series of seven debates in Alabama’s largest cities, but at least until now, the Governor has refused. In fact, the Griffith campaign had a 20 foot tall inflatable duck planted outside the resort where the forum took place – plastered with a poster: “Gov, Bentley’s Ducking the Debates.”

Watch Griffith’s speech in full here.

Robert Bentley, (R)

Going second, Republican Governor Robert Bentley’s address to the convention was not nearly as fiery as that of Griffith, the incumbent seemed to have formed a relationship with those in the audience, allowing for a more realistic connection.

Bentley began by saying he’s announced more than 60,000 “new, future jobs,” pointing to new manufacturing facilities in Wilcox County, the new Remington move, and the like.

The Governor then shifted to a discussion of the unemployment rate in the state. For the last to months, Alabama has had the only increase in unemployment nationwide, a statistic Bentley seemed to address in a roundabout way, telling the crowd that while unemployment goes up and down, the state has seen year over year job growth, not lost jobs, from July 2013 to July 2014, for example.

State Senator Tammy Irons (D) took to Twitter almost immediately to refute the Governor’s claims, saying “Shoals has lost 2,200+ jobs in 1 year.”

Bentley also touted beginning what he has said will be the “largest road and bridges program” in State history, and being what other State leaders call “the natural disaster Governor.”

Many heads cocked, however, when Bentley made the comment, “Y’all already know me. I don’t need to campaign.” Things got more routine when he said, “I get up and I work hard, and I don’t take a penny for it.”

While it may have sounded harsh to the ears, it seems true. Despite the haphazard speech, Gov. Bentley received the longest applause of any candidate, even receiving a short standing ovation from some.

Bentley’s comments can be seen in full here.

The Alabama Political Reporter will be uploading full comments by candidates for Lt. Gov and AG over the weekend. Check back on Monday for full updates.

 

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Elections

Ainsworth says that Twinkle is a liar

Brandon Moseley

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The Republican race for Alabama Lieutenant Governor has gotten heated with both candidates questioning the truthfulness of the other. On Monday, state Representative Will Ainsworth, R-Guntersville, loaded up the family into a new flatbed truck with a giant fiberglass tiger statue in the back and towing a powerful bass boat. The Ainsworth family toured the state on the last day of the campaign in what Ainsworth called a “truth tellin tour.”

The Alabama Political Reporter caught up with Ainsworth at a press conference in Vestavia at the City Hall. Ainsworth presented APR with a copy of a letter from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office that he said offers conclusive proof he was never arrested in that area.

“You have NO record of arrest/confinement at Jackson County, Alabama Jail. Per the Circuit Clerk’s Office, you have ONE Citation/Ticket in the year 2001 for operating an unregistered boat,” the letter from Jackson County Chief Deputy Rocky Harnen reads.

Ainsworth told APR that in 2001, he was operating a boat that was owned by a friend, “I didn’t have money for a boat,” when the marine police ticketed them for not having proof of registration of the boat through a current boat sticker. The owners of the boat were able to present the court with proof of registration so they were charged $10 in court costs and the case was dismissed. Ainsworth said that he was never arrested for the boating infraction.

“Twinkle made it up,” Ainsworth said of his opponent’s claim that he had been arrested in Jackson County. Ainsworth even had a campaign sign saying, “Twinkle is a liar.”

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Ainsworth said that Twinkle has falsely claimed in television and radio ads and mass mailings costing thousands of dollars.

Ainsworth also objected to the Cavanaugh campaign’s claim that he stole $15,000 worth of property.
Ainsworth admitted that he was arrested once while a college student at Auburn University; but said that it was a “college prank” and not grand theft.

Ainsworth admitted stealing a fiberglass tiger, like the one that he had on his truck.  The tigers had been placed around the City of Auburn by the Chamber of Commerce.

APR asked: there has been some conflicting reports on this as to whether it was one tiger or several tigers.  How many tigers was it?

“Five,” Ainsworth said.

APR asked were all of the tigers eventually returned or are there some of them hidden in Guntersville someplace?

Ainsworth said yes, they were all returned and that they never meant to keep the tigers. The plan was to take the tigers and hold them until an amnesty day came where they could return them without charges being filed. They were, however, discovered before the amnesty. Ainsworth admitted that it was a mistake.

Ainsworth said that the Cavanaugh campaign has misreported the facts of what happened in these two incidents.

“If we can’t trust Twinkle to tell the truth as a candidate, how can Alabamians ever believe a word she says as an elected official,” Ainsworth said. “As a career politician and a product of the Montgomery swamp, she has based her entire campaign on lies, deceit, and dirty tricks in hopes that some of her false attacks will stick. I have confidence that Alabama Republican runoff voters are too smart for her dirty tricks.”

APR asked if all of the negative campaigning and negative attacks have hurt the chances of the Republican nominee against the Democratic nominee for Lt. Governor in the fall, Dr. Will Boyd.

Ainsworth said that he did not think it would.

The Republican primary runoff is today.

Hash Tags: truth tellin tour, Will Ainsworth, fiberglass tiger, college prank, Twinkle Cavanaugh, liar, Republican Party, runoff, Will Boyd

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Elections

Secretary Merrill reminds voters that crossover voting rules are in effect

Brandon Moseley

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Today, July 17, 2018, voters will return to the polls to make a final selection for the candidates they want to represent the Republican or Democratic party in the November General Election which will be held on November 6, 2018.

Secretary of State John Merrill (R) reminded voters that, as a result of legislation passed in the 2017 Session of the State Legislature sponsored by Senator Tom Whatley (R-Auburn) and Representative Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs), that they will only be able to cast a ballot for the party that they selected in the June 6th Primary.

Some candidates for both parties have already been selected, but voters are encouraged to return to the polls to make the final selections for their party representatives.
Voters will also be asked to show photo-ID.

Forms of photo ID accepted at the polls are any of the following documents: driver’s license; Alabama photo voter ID card; State issued ID (any state); federal issued ID; US passport; employee ID from Federal Government, State of Alabama, County, Municipality, Board, or other entity of this state; student or employee ID from a public or private college or university in the State of Alabama (including postgraduate technical or professional schools); Military ID; or Tribal ID.

Persons without a valid photo ID can get an Alabama photo voter ID card for free from their Board of Registrars.

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To apply for the free Alabama photo voter ID, a voter must show: a photo ID document or a non-photo identity document that contains full legal name and date of birth; documentation showing the voter’s date of birth; documentation showing the person is a registered voter; and documentation showing the voter’s name and address as reflected in the voter registration record. A citizen’s name, address, and voter registration status can be verified by the Secretary of State’s Staff, using the statewide voter registration system.

Examples of non-photo ID documents that can be used in applying for a free Alabama photo voter ID card include a birth certificate, marriage record, Social Security Administration document, hospital or nursing home record, Medicare or Medicaid document, or an official school record or transcript.

The State of Alabama does not have same day voter registration so if you are not already registered to vote, you likely will not be able to in today’s election. The deadline to get registered for this election has passed. If you are registered to vote, and moved but still live in the state of Alabama but did not update your registration; you will have to go back to where you were assigned to vote when you lived at your old address.

The Secretary of State’s website can provide any Alabama voter with their assigned polling location.

Alabama does not have any online voting and it is too late to apply for an absentee ballot so you will have to physically go to the polling place where you are assigned in order to participate in the election. If you already have an absentee ballot you need to go ahead and turn that in.

Alabama does not have party registration, so if you did not vote in June’s primary election June you can vote in either the Republican or Democratic runoff elections. If you did vote in the primary, you are limited to voting only in the same party that you voted for in June. No matter how you vote today you are free to vote for the candidates of your choice regardless of party in the general election on November 6.

There is no write-in candidates allowed in either party primary.

The polls will open at 7:00 a.m. and close at 7:00 p.m.

Refer back to alreporter.com after the polls close for election results when they become available.

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McCutcheon chief of staff Jim Entrekin moves on; new chief of staff in limbo

Charlie Walker

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House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, announced on Monday, that Jim Entrekin, his chief of staff accepted a new position within the state Legislature as general counsel for the Legislative Services Agency.

“I congratulate Jimmy on this well-earned new opportunity, and as grateful as I am to have had him as my chief of staff, it would be selfish to expect him to turn down the opportunity he has been offered,” McCutcheon said. “Luckily, his new role will allow him to continue to work closely with the House and Senate, and we will still be able to call upon him for his advice and analytical insight.”

State House staffers speaking on background say, Representative Mark Tuggle, R- Alexander City, will replace Entrekin as McCutcheon’s chief of staff.

The Speaker’s Office didn’t announce Entrekin’s immediate replacement because according to well-placed insiders Tuggle’s appointment is being held up by the Ethics Commission.

Tuggle earned public notoriety and good-natured scorn last year when he sponsored legislation to tax The Forever Wild Land Trust, which is a state-organized program to create nature preserves, recreation areas, state parks or wildlife management areas.

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The bill died in the House, but Tuggle blamed the media, not his colleagues, for its defeat.

His legislation was considered a runner-up for the Shroud Award, a lighthearted ceremony at the end of the session to recognize the representative who sponsored the “deadest piece of legislation.”

Rep. Ritchie Whorton wins 2018 Shroud Award for car headlight bill

From the House floor, Tuggle berated the press in a fashion rarely seen in the lower chamber.

State House staffers also say Entrekin was pushed-up rather than pushed-out because of McCutcheon’s kindheartedness.

House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, D – Madison, also had congratulations to offer Entrekin.

“Jim did an excellent job as the Speaker’s chief of staff and worked well with members on both sides of the political aisle,” Daniels said. “He is well respected among members, and I look forward to working with him in his new role.”

House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter, R- Rainsville, commented on the ease of the transition from Entrekin’s former position to his new job.

“While serving as the Speaker’s chief of staff, Jim was a valuable source of timely, accurate, and unbiased analysis of bills, resolutions, and other measures,” Ledbetter said. “We are lucky that he will remain in the State House and continue to share his legal skills with the Legislature.”

The LSA, Legislative Services Agency, is a non-partisan branch that provides fiscal and legal support services to the Alabama House and Senate. Entrekin will now be providing legal guidance and liaison services in various areas of the Legislature and to its members.

According to the press release, Entrekin was a graduate of the University of Alabama School of Law. He also worked in private legal practice with an emphasis on appellate, business/contract, and labor/employment law. Entrekin also served as a law clerk for the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, as well as served as a law clerk in the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals.

The rumored Ethics Commission delay may or may not keep Tuggle from moving on to the currently vacant chief of staff position under Speaker McCutcheon.

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Ducking the Debate? Bentley, Griffith Meet at Candidate Forum (FULL VIDEO)

by Lee Hedgepeth Read Time: 3 min
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